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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

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He also invented a vegetable soup which he named after himself."
This was essentially a poor man's food, which he recommended to a
monk. It was a simple method of cooking steamed rice over vegetable
soup in a double boiler, so that both would be done at the same time.
The soup in the lower pot consisted of a medley of cabbage, turnips,
rape turnip, and shepherd's purse, which were carefully rinsed before
they were put in the pot with a little ginger. As was usual in ancient
days, some uncooked rice was thrown in the soup itself. The steamed
rice was placed in a separate colander after the vegetables had been
boiled sufficiently to get rid of their raw smell. Care was taken to pre-
vent the boiling soup from touching the bottom of the rice, so that the
steam could penetrate evenly.

In such a rustic atmosphere, he found his life resembled more and
more that of the great bucolic poet Tao Chien, whom he greatly
.admired. Tao Chien, too, had laid down his office and retired to work
a farm because he could not put on his official gown and adiust his
belt in order to kowtow to a small bureaucrat from the provincial tax
bureau. Su wrote a poem saying that Tao Chien must have been one
of his previous incarnations, which would have been presumptuous
coming from a poet of lesser stature, but was natural in the case of
Su Tungpo. The more he read Tao's poems, the more he realised how
they reflected his own sentiments and his present life.
-' There are certain pleasures that only a poet-farmer can enioy. On
quitting official life to go back to the farm, Tao Chien had written a
classic poem called "Homeward I go!n which unfortunately could
not be sung. Inspired by his daily labour at the farm, Su Tungpo re-
arranged the words and set them to the music of a folk-song. He
taught the farm hands to sing it, while he, interrupting his work at the
plough, joined in the singing and kept time by beating a stick on the
water-buffalo's horn.

It was easy for Su Tungpo to accept the consolation of philosophy.
On the walls and doors of the Snow Hall, he wrote thirty-two words
for himself to look at day and night. They contained a four-fold warn-

"To go about by carriage is a good way to acquire infirm legs.
To live in great halls and deep chambers is an ideal method

to catch cold.
To indulge oneself with pretty women is a sure way to

destroy one's health.
To eat food with rich gravy is the proper way to develop

stomach ulcers."

Blessed are those who are deprived of the good things of this earth! It